An island graduation is a very special occasion, as it was on June 9 when twin sisters Frances and Gretchen Blank graduated from the Islesford School. The Neighborhood House was packed with family and friends who shared a pot luck supper and the graduation ceremony. The program began with a slide show followed by individual recollections from fellow students. Gretchen gave the first graduation speech, thanking her parents, teachers and family members for all she had learned. She said that living on Islesford “was the best way to grow up, in the world.” Frances said, in her speech, that her childhood on Islesford had been “an amazing experience.” She told of how her friend Heather Spurling and her coach Eve Harrison had especially helped her prepare for high school. Both of the girls thanked Erin and Aaron Gray for hiring them at the store; their jobs giving them the opportunity to gain more confidence before they leave the island for high school in the fall. After members of the community congratulated the graduates with personal stories, school board member Kate Chaplin gave flowers to Islesford teachers Lindsey Eysnogle, Jane Grover and Gail Grandgent. Angela Hardy, principal and a former teacher at the Islesford School, presented the girls with their diplomas.

June is one of the busiest months in the Cranberry Isles. No matter what the weather, everyone has something to do and not enough time to do it. Lobstermen are getting the rest of their gear in the water and taking trips at odd hours to pick up alewives for the freshest bait. Lobsters are turning dark with their hard shells as they prepare for shedding and mating season. Caretakers are scurrying to get the rest of the summer houses opened up and problem-free before people start arriving for the fourth of July weekend.

On Great Cranberry Island, Polly Bunker is getting ready for her 36th season of business at the Whale’s Rib Gift Shop. In her yard are the ribs and vertebrae of a whale that came ashore near Rice’s point 100 years ago, giving a specific authenticity to the name of her store. Polly’s shop of beautiful handmade items is very near the Great Cranberry Library and the GCI Historical Society Museum, both of which are located in the Longfellow School. Librarian Ruth Westphal increases her hours in the summer, keeping the library open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The museum is open from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The GCIHS board members are busy with final plans for a July 20 fund raising event. They hope to complete the renovation of the Cranberry House, which will be a cultural center and the new home of the museum.

On the old coal dock at Islesford, Marian Baker and Kaitlyn Miller are literally spinning their wheels to get ready for a new season at the Islesford Pottery. Next door, Sue Hill is sprucing up Winter’s Work to display and sell Maine made crafts and gifts. She has been helping to support island artisans with her business for 23 years. At the head of the dock Dan and Cynthia Lief have a crew busy painting and planning for the opening of their Islesford Dock Restaurant on June 24. This is their 14th summer of serving fine food, and Cynthia proudly claims that some of this summer’s staff were newborns on Islesford when they bought the restaurant. Matt Kunze is tending to the restaurant gardens with herbs, greens and flowers planted for the 2006 season. Dan and Kate Fernald will have their Islesford Artists Gallery open for the 20th season. Their daughter Erin and her husband, Aaron Gray, are running the Islesford Market, successfully juggling the increasing demands for a variety of food items as the summer population swells. The Beal and Bunker mail boat and the Cranberry Cove ferry have started their summer schedules, running trips to Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor every two hours. John Dwelley has launched his water taxi, Delight, to begin his 22nd season of service.

More islanders than I could mention are busy getting ready for summer, but what can you do to prepare for your summer visit to one of the Cranberry Isles? Look on-line at one or both of the town websites, or If you are a technophobe or don’t own a computer, that is no excuse! Your local librarian can help you look at these sites on a library computer.

The two websites contain a wealth of information about our islands. There are minutes from the monthly selectmen’s meetings, ferry schedules, listings of rentals and houses for sale, information about the historical societies and bulletin boards where people post questions and announcements. Each site has its own unique qualities so I recommend taking the time to look at both of them. If you own a laptop computer with a wireless card, bring it with you so you can take advantage of the high speed T-1 lines at the libraries on both Islesford and Great Cranberry while the rest of us still curse at our dial-up connections.

If you have specific questions about the Town of Cranberry Isles, the town office, located on Islesford, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Denise McCormick, Bill McGuinness or Nan Hadlock will be happy to answer your questions about parking, recycling, garbage, etc. The phone number is 207-244-4475. If you would like to have a copy of the 2005 Annual Town Report, contact Denise by phone or by e-mail:, and she will mail one to you. The report represents hours of work from numerous people in a year of many transitions for our town. Included with financial information are reports from the selectmen, the deputy town clerk and all town departments, boards and committees.

Too much reading for you? Then simply get ready for your visit by looking at the photographs on the websites before you arrive. There are some great ones of Frances and Gretchen Blank’s graduation from a school in an amazing place to live. q

— Islesford, June 15, 2006